Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter
Series: Summer Harbor #3
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Christian Fiction
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Riley Callahan’s plans to reveal his secret feelings for his best friend are ruined when his life is drastically changed in Afghanistan.
Watching the love of his life falling for his brother was enough to send Riley straight to boot camp. But over a year later, he’s officially a marine, and Beau and Paige are no longer an item. When Riley’s tour in Afghanistan is up, he intends to confess his feelings to Paige and win his best friend’s heart once and for all.
But all that changes when an IED takes the life of two comrades and leaves Riley an amputee. Now he’s heading home, injured and troubled. His plans to win Paige are a distant dream. She deserves so much more than the man that’s left. All he can do now is put some healthy distance between them. But upon his return he discovers his family has arranged for him to stay with Paige.
Paige is a nurturer at heart and happy to take care of her best buddy. By all appearances he’s adjusting miraculously well to his disability. But as the days pass, Paige begins to see that the smiles and laughter are just a mask for the pain he’s hiding. He has nightmares and mood swings, and his unwavering independence keeps him from accepting help from anyone, including her. To make matters worse, her job is in serious jeopardy. The animal shelter that she’s poured her heart into has lost its funding, and she has three months to come up the money needed to save it.
As the weeks wear on with the two in such close proximity, Paige’s feelings for Riley begin to shift into unchartered territory. Why is she suddenly noticing the corded muscles on his arms or the way his lips curl at the corners? Will she be able to deny her feelings for another Callahan brother? And will Riley let his heart heal so he can let Paige in?
Riley Callahan has returned home to Summer Harbor, Maine. But the Marine endured a lot in Afghanistan, including a battle that cost him his leg. Thoughts of finally professing his love to long time best friend Paige have gone out the window.
Paige has never known that Riley felt anything more than friendship. He's her best friend - there for her when her father died, there for her when she dated his brother and the relationship ended. Having him home again is the answer to a prayer and she'll do anything to help him heal and readjust. But Paige's feelings for Riley have changed and she's thinking about him as a lot more than just a friend.
I enjoyed both Riley and Paige and their story. The best friends to more story is hardly new, but it's one that I almost always enjoy. I will say that their refusal to acknowledge or share their feelings felt overly drawn out and became frustrating, as did Riley's insistence that with his injury he was no longer good enough for Paige. I would have preferred to have seen more of them actually together instead of all the build-up.
Just a Kiss is classified as Christian fiction, something I wasn't aware of when I requested the book. While that does mean this was a very clean, wholesome love story, with Christian content (that was not heavy handed), it was refreshing in a way. Readers that like their romance on the sweeter, cleaner side (nothing beyond a few kisses) will definitely appreciate this one.
Just is Kiss is a friends-to-more contemporary romance and, despite being the third in a series, can easily be read as a stand alone.